The sun rising and British summers being a washout are almost certainties, whilst Ladbrokes probably won’t entertain odds for these, here’s a light-hearted look at things we knew would happen in British football this season. If only I’d put some money on at least one of them…
Arsenal gunned down (again)
The 21st May will mark Arsenal’s eight year anniversary since their last trophy. The 2005 FA Cup against Manchester United was the last time the Gunners tasted sweet silverware success and the very fact it was played at the Millennium Stadium demonstrates just how long ago that was.
Even local rivals Tottenham Hotspur have won a trophy more recently, when they came from behind to beat Chelsea in the 2008 Carling Cup, probably just to spite Gunners fans. If quizzed about the cobwebs in the silverware cabinet, Arsenal fans will quickly remind you of the 2003-04 season of the ‘The Invincibles’, but since it’s been a frustrating affair and this term has been no exception.
Capital One Cup cock-up
After smashing six past Coventry, Arsenal faced Reading in the fourth round and found themselves four nil down even before the halftime whistle. Perhaps Arsene Wenger used the hairdryer treatment at half time, having read its proven success by Alex Ferguson and his 13 Premier League titles, as the Gunners came out a different side after the break. The emphatic comeback finished 7-5, Walcott got a hat-trick, and even Koscielny got a goal.
A quarter final date with Bradford City in December seemed the easiest of all the fixtures, but Arsenal managed to make a meal of it and were gunned down in the penalty shoot-out by the League Two side.
Fruitless FA Cup
The fixtures on paper looked as if the games should have got easier in the competition for Arsene’s men, but big upsets and the FA Cup go hand in hand. After managing to send Swansea packing in the third round replay, the Gunners battled hard with Championship play-off contenders Brighton for a place in the fifth round, where they would face Blackburn Rovers who were recently relegated from the Premier League.
Whilst the Rovers chicken supreme takeover hasn’t been so finger lickin’ good, the Championship relegation contenders left Arsenal red-faced when Kazim-Richards scored late on at the Emirates in true unpredictable FA Cup style.
Noisy neighbours quietened by United
Nobody likes loosing, not least Alex Ferguson. Especially when it’s surrendering the title and having to cut the party short when the news of City’s last gasp goal courtesy of Aguero at Queen’s Park Rangers came thundering over the airwaves. There’s nothing more embarrassing then having to put all the party poppers away, and worst of all was trying to put the cork back in the champers.
‘I’ll be back’…
That alone should have told us of Manchester United’s imminent return, or the Terminator-esque taunting message Ferguson left City fans with when the Scotsman told BBC Sport “they know I’m not going away”…I’ll be back, and he was.
Celtic cruise and Rangers romp
The Old Firm have been dominating the Scottish Premier League for an eternity, and when the unanimous vote concluded Rangers would compete in Division Three this season, it meant two things. Celtic could sit back, pop on cruise control and ease their way to the SPL title, whilst Rangers fans would travel far and wide in great numbers doing their part to ensure the Ibrox club storm the fourth tier of Scottish football.
The temptation was to have a cheeky poke at the Fernando ‘flop’ Torres, but credit where it’s due: the Spanish striker is very close to the record 33 goals he scored in his first season at Liverpool, the fact it has taken three seasons to almost equal the tally is beside the point. Swansea paid less than a fifth of Fernando’s yearly wage bill to bring Michu to the Liberty Stadium…just saying.